Paris Fashion Week 2019 begins under Lagerfeld’s shadow

His right-hand woman at Chanel, Virginie Viard, who has now adopted the reins at the iconic label, will present what is officially his final compilation on the last day of the fashion week shows on March 5. It is still not clear how much of the collection was produced by Lagerfeld, who died last Tuesday aged 85.

He had leaned heavily on Viard, his head of the studio, in his final months. The workaholic German, who always emphasised that he would sketch until he dropped, drew his inventions by hand and then gave them on to Viard to realise.

“I understand him and I can sublimate what he wants to do and bring to Chanel,” she told AFP in a 2015 interview on what made the duo tick. Their three-decade alliance was the engine that drove a consistent reinvention of the brand during Lagerfeld’s 37 years in charge.

The producer was cremated Friday “without ceremony”, as he had asked, in the presence of Viard and a handful of his closest friends including Princess Caroline of Monaco and fashion’s most powerful man, LVMH tycoon Bernard Arnault.

Chanel would not say on whether next week’s show will hold homage to Lagerfeld, saying only that “a farewell ceremony will take place at a later date”. Under Lagerfeld, Chanel staged magnificent shows at the vast Grand Palais in central Paris.

But sickness prevented him from serving its haute couture show there in January, the first time he ever missed a Chanel show, with Viard taking the bow at the end. At October’s spring-summer show, Lagerfeld went out of his way to support Viard, who took the bow alongside him.

The Decorative Arts Museum in Paris has put on exhibit four of Lagerfeld’s most famous productions for Chanel and Chloe, which he also converted, in the first official tribute to his artistic genius. Internet resale sites have recorded a huge spike in interest for Lagerfeld’s work since his death.

Such is “the Kaiser’s” enduring influence, that youthful Berlin-based label Ottinger led its show Monday with a series of an acid-tinged tartan twin set outfits that were a cheeky millennials’ take on Lagerfeld’s Chanel classics. Its Swiss creators Christa Bosch and Cosima Gadient also took a leaf out of Lagerfeld’s book by wittily striking off the comparison.

With British designer, Phoebe Philo talked of as a possible heir at Chanel long term, one of her former acolytes at Celine, Korean-born Rok Hwang, kicked off fashion week’s nine packed days with an extremely assured Paris debut.

The London-based creator, who grew up in a caravan in Austin, Texas, gained the prestigious LVMH special prize last year and the deconstructed trench coats and fluid paisley scarf dresses in his autumn winter collection won him more fans in the French capital.

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